“While living in Texas, I learned how to burn ants with a magnifying glass. Just recently, I read an article by a child psychologist, claiming that kids doing such were prone to becoming psychopaths. I’d venture to say that this intellectual wizard never had boys of her own.”


I can’t say that I dislike all ants. Some of them are fun to watch as long as they aren’t climbing up my leg. I’ve had certain species enter my pants more than once.

The things are amazingly strong. Larger ones can hoist a Cheerio. I’m talking Big O here as in the popular oat cereal. Ants even buddy up and work together to haul food back to their cave. This work ethic should be taught to children in school.

As a child I wanted an ant farm. Some of my friends owned them. Mom was always afraid the plastic ant container would break. What difference did it make when we had them as uninvited guests anyway?

Sugar ants are the first variety I recall. That’s probably not their scientific name, yet it works fine for my reading level. One day there was a line of sugar ants stretched a mile-long across our table to a sugar bowl. It was actually 10-feet, yet to the teeny-legged ants it was definitely a mile.

My brother and I followed the insects down a table leg, across linoleum tile, to a crack in the bathroom floor of our small trailer. The small insects were marching like trained soldiers up a copper water pipe from the ground below. Dad took care of them with a can of DDT bug spray. This stuff came in a green, military issue aerosol can. The Air Force gave it out like candy back then to servicemen, in hopes it’d help keep the mosquito population down. The experiment failed.

As a child, I made the mistake of sitting on grass at our school playground. Unbeknownst to me, the soil underneath was teeming with thousands of Alabama fire ants. All I could do was take off running. Mom used plenty of Calamine Lotion later that afternoon to ease the pain.

Texas red ants were something else. These large creatures were hard to kill. There was a large anthill in front of our home in Lubbock, Texas. My father and another man tossed lit firecrackers onto their lively commune. When fire hit gunpowder, the forthcoming explosion blew ants onto me. I was stupid enough to be standing too close. All the concussion did was make them mad. They took their anger out on soft flesh.

Dad eliminated that colony along with some of his hair, using plenty of gasoline poured on top of the anthill. It was hot that day, and before he struck a match, highly combustible fumes quickly spread several feet. It was like an atomic bomb going off.

This time I was far enough away to not incur injury, but dad and the other fellow got singed. An ensuing fire turned a good majority of the colony into crispy critters. By the following day they were back. It took several more fires to make them move on down the road.

While living in Texas, I learned how to fry ants with a magnifying glass. Just recently, I read an article written by a child psychologist, claiming that kids doing such were prone to becoming psychopaths. I’d venture to say this intellectual wizard never had boys of her own.

Most all of my friends used magnifying glasses for entertainment. We initially started out burning leaves and paper, but quickly advanced to hunting for moving targets. It took skill to keep the pinpoint of light from a magnifying glass trained on a speedy ant. Did any of us turn into psychopaths? I guess that depends on who you ask.

I started to show my son how magnifying glasses worked when he was around 11 years old. A buddy of his had already tutored him. Gunnar demonstrated how to ignite a match with a magnifying glass inside a clear bottle. The snap-on lid blew off from combustion. An elementary teacher taught me that trick around sixth grade. I suppose Mr. Harper would be arrested these days for endangerment.

Black Carpenter ants are abundant in Alaska. They were destructive around our place. A portion of the lower siding around our house had holes made from these pests. They set up shop in the moisture laden plywood. A man at Lowe’s in Anchorage told me the only way to eliminate them is keep wood away from your home. I didn’t say anything at the time, but thought to myself,

“Aren’t houses made mostly of wood?”

I eventually found some granular ant-killer that did them in. The damage to our house? Good ole’ automotive Bondo took care of patching them, along with fixing a few woodpecker holes.

Here in Arizona we have humongous fire ants. These are evidently kin to the Alabama and Texas fire ants, only tougher where outer shell is concerned. I think somehow they got wind that I’m a serial ant killer. I see more and more on our driveway each year.

They’re so resilient, that I’ve stomped a few and the impact didn’t kill them. I’ve missed and had them run towards me as if to attack. They are vicious but I have the ultimate weapon to fight back.

If these guys want to play with fire, I have plenty of it myself. Forget the magnifying glass. I purchased a large weed burner complete with 20-pound bottle of propane. It’s like a WWII flame thrower to me. I’ve used it many times on ants, grasshoppers, and scorpions. Believe me, this thing gets the job done like right now. I named it, “The Antcinerator” for good reason.

It’s unfortunate I didn’t have this tool in Alabama and Texas. It makes dad’s ‘gasoline in the hole’ trick look primitive. Besides, my torch is much safer.

Alaska is another story. Had I ignorantly blasted those pesky Carpenter ants with flame, logic tells me our house would’ve been burnt toast. Even Bondo can’t fix that kind of stupid!

“The Antcinerator”

Author: michaeldexterhankins

ordinary average guy

3 thoughts on “LIGHT MY FIRE”

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